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Dungeons and Dragons Online State of the Game 2010

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Dungeons and Dragons Online has experienced a Renaissance since it ditched its old subscription based model and relaunched as a free to play game with the subtitle Eberron Unlimited. The folks over at Turbine have released a lengthy ‘State of the Game’ which goes into detail on what lies ahead for the year.

For current players, the address is well worth reading but for the rest of us here is a short list of what’s inside:

– 6 content releases scheduled for 2010, 1 down 5 to go.

– Guild Housing

– A new race — the Half Orc.

– New item types such as alignment re-adjusters and cosmetic gear that keeps the stat of previous equipped items.

– Additional hireling classes announced.

– Bug fixes and continued efforts to launch international versions of the game.

Full Release:

Hi Everyone-

I hope you all had a fun February and that you enjoyed the events and celebrations we had in DDO! A few weeks back, I had promised that after we got done and fully recovered from all our partying (as in festivities, not just grouping for quests), I would return to talk a little about what is coming up for our favorite MMO. Thanks to those of you who submitted questions as requested. I will do my best to address as many as I can here.

Please bear in mind that development is not always predictable, so what we discuss today will represent our best understanding of what we will be able to accomplish this year within our current plans. Some things may have to slip, but you will surely see other additions over the course of the year as well!

So without further ado, let me dive in to some of the details you’re looking for:

Content and Adventure Packs

Creating new stories, places and adventures is one of the things we love to do! So it won’t be any surprise to you that releasing a steady stream of new content is one of the foundations of our plans for DDO in 2010. This year we have committed to releasing 6 content updates to the game. One down, five more to go!

Next up is Update 4. This new adventure pack, “Sentinels” (which a few industrious players already found in our Compendium, and is now available for preview on Lamannia), is slated for April and follows a story line that involves House Deneith, Searing Heights, a new kind of undead and a nefarious band of pirates led by the infamous Captain Tew (usually seen with his beloved pet, Ratty). The adventures start at CR7, and Sentinels will be our first adventure pack to support Epic mode for level 20 characters starting right from the day of its launch!

Other content packs later in the year will involve a fiendish carnival that will visit house Phiarlan and a new Wilderness adventure area that will contain our first quest with underwater combat. These are currently in the thick of development and they are looking really great with beautiful environments and some exciting new monsters. We can’t wait to share them with you later this year!

New Items

We are also working on some cool new types of game items which will offer new features and functionality to our players. One that’s coming soon is an alignment change item which will let players re-spec their alignment on their characters. We have also recently created technology to support a new kind of cosmetic item that will alter your appearance when you equip it, but will let you keep the stat benefits from the last item you had equipped. We have only had time to play with this tech on a few items, but eventually you’ll see us evolve this into a full offering of cosmetic outfits and hats. You may have already seen the hat we released for President’s Day, and we have two fun, themed cosmetic helms coming in April. Which will be most popular, the cute fluffy bunny hat or the evil dire rabbit helm? I have a bet placed on this one – I won’t say on which. Don’t let me down, DDO players!

New Features

In addition to new content and items we are also working on some exciting new features for DDO. The team is currently busy working on some great additions to the guild system that will let guild members work together to earn valuable rewards and rival guilds compete for status on each server. One of the biggest rewards players will work towards is access to an all new guild housing system, which we are implementing in a cool and unique way. Suffice it to say, we think you will really want to be part of a guild that has earned access to this feature! I can’t say much more about it now, but look for more details in the coming weeks.

Many of you asked for status on new races and classes and I am pleased to be able to share a major announcement today. We are actively working on adding another race to DDO: The Half-Orc! Development is moving along well and as of today it looks very likely you will see a large influx of Half-Orcs into the world of Eberron towards the end of this year. At long last you will be able to play that appearance-challenged but awesomely strong character that you have longed to be. Plus 2 bonus to strength? Yes, Please! Now I know what I’m going to True Reincarnate into in my next life for my main.

On the topic of classes, we are still continuing work on new prestige enhancement to fill out all of the current classes. Our approach continues to be to focus on just one or two classes each cycle until we fill these out. I know you want these to all be done sooner but the logistics of testing and balancing the impact on a class is large so this is likely to continue. A few folks asked about Cleric Domains. I don’t have anything to announce for 2010, but I will say that when it gets to be the Cleric class’s turn to get a polish pass, that is when we will consider these types of additions to the class.

We are also working on some new classes for hirelings to let players better fill out their parties with them. Look for Favored Souls and Bards to appear first and maybe another class or two later in the year.

Polish and Fixes

Now, I know some of you are saying, “It’s nice you are doing new things but why don’t you work on reducing bugs in releases and improving those things that are already in the game?” OK, maybe you didn’t all say it quite so politely, but we hear what you are saying.

On this topic, first let me say that we are absolutely committed to making DDO the highest quality free-to-play game on the market. If on occasion we fail to live up to this high standard, we take steps to adjust how we work to make things even better. To this end, I am happy to share with you that we have recently expanded our QA team and we are re-working some of our processes around how we manage testing on our private and public test servers.

We also have lots of highly requested small improvements and fixes in the works and we will get them to you as soon as possible. On the sooner side, we are making Mass Heal work on parties of up to 12 players, making some improvements to weapon sets and fixing some bugs in key maps. Some bigger requests which we also hope to get done this year include adding string search to auctions, improvements to avatar animations and doing a polish pass on ranged combat.

International

In 2010 we will be working to maintain our positive momentum from last year and grow our service to more players both in North America and around the world. A few of you asked about our plans for Europe, and though I can’t announce any specifics, I can say that we are working with our partners to get the new content and business model to our European players as soon as possible. We will share details with you as soon as we can.

We are also evaluating how we can bring DDO to players who speak other languages and live in other parts of the world. The localization and rollout work is likely to take some time, but look for some announcements on this later in the year as well.

A Bigger and Better DDO

So there you have it. We have a lot of great things planned for DDO in 2010! And these are just the things I am able to talk about today. I hope I’ve answered the majority of your pressing questions. I’m sure there are and will be many more, especially about new features and content as they are released throughout the year. Be on the lookout for more dev diaries with details on new features and changes to DDO, and as always we encourage you to keep providing your feedback through our community sites.

2009 was a huge year for DDO! The launch of Eberron Unlimited has brought us a bevy of awards and accolades for how we have successfully brought the free-to-play business model to the premium MMO space. Even more importantly, we are extremely proud of how our community has embraced the new DDO and grown to include millions of players who are now part of our game world. From all of us here at Turbine, I wish to express a sincere thank you for your support.

See you in Eberron!

-Fernando.

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